Oakland Raiders Veterans Who Could Be 2014 Training Camp Casualties
Many of the cuts won't come as a surprise—backup kickers, the third-string fullback, all those extra wide receivers—but there will also be players cut who looked like they could be important contributors in the upcoming season.
This includes the veterans on the team, and Oakland already made the first of these moves by releasing veteran Kevin Burnett.
During training camp, everyone on the team, including the veterans, will be closely watched and carefully analyzed by the coaches. No one is guaranteed a roster spot, and the process of proving that you deserve one begins now.
Despite their potential value to the team, there are several veterans who have questions to answer during camp. If they don't, there's a good chance they won't be in Oakland for much longer.
Here are five veterans currently on the Oakland roster who are not guaranteed to make it to the regular season.
Heading into training camp, the Raiders already looked thin at cornerback, and that was before the team revealed the severity of D.J. Hayden's injury.
In a surprising turn of events, the position has actually become one of the most hotly contested early in camp.
Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers were expected to perform well, but the team has also seen promising performances from Chimdi Chekwa, TJ Carrie and Keith McGill. Just Blog Baby's Chase Ruttig notes that even unheralded Neiko Thorpe has made quite the impression early in camp, also earning some snaps with the first team.
The odd man out on this depth chart could be Taiwan Jones.
Originally drafted as a running back, Oakland moved him to cornerback prior to the 2013 season. Jones is an exceptional athlete, and the hope was to be able to make use of that somewhere on the field.
Unfortunately, the only place Jones has really been able to shine is on special teams. While that's certainly an important role, are the Raiders willing to give a special teamer a roster spot that could go to a potential starting cornerback?
Bleacher Report's Christopher Hansen tweeted that Jones has seen some first-team reps as well, so he's not totally out of the mix. Still, in order to secure his roster spot, Jones is going to have to show that he's valuable to the team as more than just a special teamer.
If he doesn't, he could find himself without a team after roster cuts are made.
The Raiders are currently carrying six running backs on the roster. In the NFL, teams generally carry three, maybe four, running backs. That means that two to three of these players won't be around long, and the cuts will likely begin in training camp.
Unfortunately for Jeremy Stewart, he's got a good chance to be one of the first to go.
The top of Oakland's running back depth chart is set with Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, and as reported by CBS Sports, Latavius Murray has impressed the coaches early in the offseason, making him the favorite to be the third running back on the depth chart.
That means that Stewart is currently battling it out with Kory Sheets for the fourth spot. This competition can go either way, and neither has made a major impression yet. However, their careers up to this point will play a major role in Oakland's decision.
After failing to secure a spot on an NFL roster out of college, Sheets joined the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL in 2012 and proceeded to make quite a name for himself.
In two years with the Roughriders, Sheets ran the ball 516 times for 2,875 and 23 touchdowns, according to CFL.ca. In 2013, Sheets was awarded the MVP award in the Grey Cup after leading his team to victory in the championship.
The level of competition is not as high in the CFL as it is in the NFL, but Sheets still performed exceptionally well during his time there.
Stewart, on the other hand, has only 27 carries for 103 yards and one touchdown since joining Oakland in 2012. Even with all of the injuries to the guys ahead of him, Stewart has never received a serious look from the coaching staff.
While Stewart is the known quantity in Oakland, Sheets has shown the better upside. This will be especially important to the Raiders given the injury history at the position.
McFadden has never played 16 games, Jones-Drew has yet to prove he's returned to his prior form following a foot injury suffered back in 2012, and Murray missed his entire rookie year with an ankle injury. This means that even the fourth-string running back in Oakland might be depended on at some point in the season.
One advantage Stewart might have is age: He's 25, while Sheets is 29. Unfortunately for Stewart, the Raiders have shown that age isn't as important to them as performance.
At this point, Stewart's biggest opportunity might be as a kick and/or punt returner, but that's about it. A more likely scenario is that he'll be sent home sooner rather than later.
Greg Little's time in the NFL can only be described as disappointing. Perhaps NFL.com's Marc Sessler put it best when he wrote that "Little's butterfingers drove coaches and fans to near insanity" during his time with the Cleveland Browns.
In the three years he spent in Cleveland after they selected him in the second round of the 2011 draft, Little could never be relied on to hold on to the ball. Sessler notes that Little had 14 drops his rookie season, second-worst in the NFL, and his receiving yards dropped every season in Cleveland.
He simply dropped too many passes and didn't generate enough yards. After three seasons, the Browns decided they had seen enough and released him.
At 6'2, 220 pounds, Greg Little looks like a prototypical NFL wide receiver, but that doesn't mean anything unless he can hold on to the ball. The Raiders are hoping they found a gem, but Little has to prove that he's finally figured it out and can actually be depended on.
He has training camp to prove that he can be relied on, and ESPN.com's Jim Trotter reports that Little has looked solid early. If he can keep that up, he has a great shot at not only making the team but also earning playing time.
However, Little joins an already crowded and promising group of wide receivers in Oakland, which means he has no real margin for error.
A few good days in camp aren't enough to erase the reputation for drops that it took Little years to build. If passes thrown his way start to hit the ground too often, Little will find himself without a team very quickly.
Trent Edwards is currently going through his second training camp with the Raiders. He was also in Oakland back in 2011, but he didn't make it out of the preseason.
The result this year will likely be the same.
The one-time starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills has officially become an NFL journeyman. Since being released by the Bills in 2010, Edwards has seen time with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Chicago Bears and the Raiders.
The San Jose Mercury News' Steve Corkran notes that Edwards "hasn't started an NFL game since 2009," and he hasn't appeared in a regular-season game since 2012. At this point in his career, the 30-year-old Edwards isn't going to be anymore than a backup quarterback wherever he lands.
This is just fine for Oakland, where Matt Schaub has settled in as the team's unquestioned starting quarterback, per Josh Dubow of Yahoo Sports, and Derek Carr has a firm grip on the second-string spot. This means that Edwards and Matt McGloin will battle it out for the third-string quarterback position in training camp.
Edwards is a veteran quarterback, and that's something NFL teams are always interested in having because the experience such a player brings can be very useful. He won't see any playing time, but he's a good guy to have in practice and in meetings.
But there's also the possibility that Edwards was just brought in to be a camp arm. The truth is that McGloin played surprisingly well at times last season. He won't challenge Schaub or Carr, but he certainly did enough to earn another season with the team.
Ultimately, Oakland is likely to go with McGloin's potential over Edwards' experience.
NFL teams like to have a backup quarterback with experience, so Edwards has a good chance of being on an NFL roster for the 2014 season. It's just unlikely to be with Oakland.
The Denarius Moore saga continues in Oakland.
ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez reported in June that head coach Dennis Allen still has some concerns about Moore's focus and consistency. This isn't something you want to hear about a fourth-year player.
Given his elite talent and the opportunity he's been given in Oakland to secure his spot as a perennial starter, it's disappointing that Moore doesn't seem to have grown as a professional during his time in the NFL.
Reports of Moore's issues have been common throughout his career, but this year is different. Moore has benefited from a relatively thin crop of wide receivers in Oakland since he's been with the team, but that's no longer the case.
The reports continue to come in regarding Oakland's wide receivers. The San Francisco Chronicle's Vic Tafur reported that Rod Streater and Greg Little stood out of the group early.
B/R's Dan Wilkins wrote a great piece about Andre Holmes' immense potential and the very real possibility he has for a breakout season in 2014. NFL.com's Marc Sessler noted that even with all of the additions at the position, it's perhaps Juron Criner who's been the most impressive this offseason.
As of now, James Jones and Streater are looking to be the starting wide receivers, and behind them, it's a battle for playing time between Criner, Holmes and Little. This means Moore isn't going to get playing time by default, something he's grown used to, and that has undoubtedly contributed to his complacency.
The team now has plenty of options, meaning Moore has nothing guaranteed.
Despite the inconsistency, Moore is too valuable to just cut. If the Raiders decide he no longer has a place on the team, they'll do whatever they can to trade him and get something in return.
However, the team's also shown a willingness to simply release a player who doesn't work out, regardless of the perceived commitment.
Just last season, the Raiders traded for quarterback Matt Flynn in April, and he was immediately the favorite to start. However, once he arrived, he didn't perform at the level that was expected. The starting job went to Terrelle Pryor, and Flynn was off the team by October.
Moore should be challenging for a starting spot this training camp. Instead, there are questions about how far down the depth chart he's fallen.
If Moore doesn't prove that he's matured and is ready to produce every game, the Raiders won't be afraid to part ways with the enigmatic receiver.
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